Legumes are filled with nutrients that are easy to find in stores, inexpensive, and can be used in different dishes. If you are trying to cut down on your meat intake you should take legumes because they are also filled with protein.

Legume is a way of adding plant-based protein to your diet.

Most times the terms “pulses”, “beans”, and “legumes’ are used interchangeably but legumes refer to the entire plant including the (stems, pods, and leaves) while the pulse is the edible seed such as (lentils, beans, and peas).

Legumes are very nutritious, they are low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, zinc, and B vitamins. Soy nuts and peanuts are legumes too. They are a significant source of protein, carbohydrates, dietary minerals, and fiber.

Legumes grow throughout the world and have been cultivated since ancient times, more than 11,000 years. They are important nitrogen-fixing plants for soil health. The most popular legume plants are peas and beans.

What are Legumes?

Legumes are plants found in the family, Fabaceae or Leguminosae, or the fruit or seed of such plant. They have grown agriculturally, primarily for human consumption, soil-enhancing green manure, livestock forage, and silage. Legumes are plants that carry seeds in a pod. The pods split along both sides when ripe.

Examples of legumes are Lentils, soy nuts, chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), Black-eyed peas, fava beans, Edamame, haricot beans, red beans (Adzulai beans), lima beans, green beans, yard-long beans, Green northern beans, etc.

Legumes are the key ingredient of vegan meat and dairy substitutes. Grain legumes are cultivated for their seeds which are used for the production of oils for industrial use or human and animal consumption. The grain legumes include peanuts, peas, Lupins, lentils, and beans. Lupin is a species of legume which is grown for their flowers and farmed commercially for their blooms.

Legumes supply food for humans and animals and provide edible oils, fibers, and raw materials for plastics. Many are grown for their seed which is high in protein and contains many essential amino acids.

Raw legumes contain anti-nutrient which may cause harm, however, the proper methods of preparing them to get rid of them such anti-nutrients include; sprouting, soaking, and boiling. This anti-nutrient may block the way the body absorbs nutrients.

The anti-nutrients in legumes include:

  1. Tannins: They lower the absorption of iron
  2. Saponins: These may interfere with the way your body absorbs nutrients.
  3. Lectins: They interfere with the absorption of zinc, iron, phosphorus, and calcium
  4. Phytates: They lower the absorption of zinc, iron, phosphorus, and calcium

The dried seed of legumes is called “pulses”.

Legumes also include eaten by humans such as alfalfa, clovers, vetches. These are important animal forage and pasture plants. Legume cover crops are important nitrogen-fixing plants for soil health.

Legumes have lysine as its essential amino acid, resistant starch along with high fiber content keeps the blood sugar levels low. They also contain polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants.

Health Benefits of Legumes

  1. It can help to control weight.
  2. They lower your risk of heart disease.
  3. It also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  4. They prevent you from type 2 diabetes.
  5. It can be used to improve glycemic and lipid control for people that have diabetes.

Legumes are high in dietary fiber which helps to keep our bowels empty. It is good to reduce your intake of red meat such as beef, pork, etc. because of the saturated fat content. Beans and lentils are a great substitute to help maintain a healthy heart because legumes help to reduce blood pressure and inflammation which are two risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.